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Tuesday, Aug 16, 2022
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Parking Meters Should Be Seen As Serious Source of Revenue

By JACK McGRATH As the City of Los Angeles grapples with a $271 million deficit for the next fiscal year, there is a means to raise part of the needed revenue from the 39,000 city parking meters in our city, and with an increase in the rate for citations for parking meter violators. Our parking meter fund, revenue from the quarters, dimes, and nickels we deposit every day in the meters, is supposed to be used to build off-street parking lots and structures in our commercial retail areas. In recent years, the city has used these funds for the general city budget. Very few off-street parking lots have been built in the last 10 to 20 years. The high cost of land to construct them, makes off- street parking lots cost prohibitive. The rates for these thousands of parking meters are considerably below the commercial rates for private parking lots and parking structures throughout our city. When has anyone ever paid 25 cents or 50 cents per hour at a commercial parking lot? Never. But that is the average meter rate charged at our city parking meters. In the Fairfax area, the city parking meter rate on the street is 75 cents per hour. The Canter’s Deli commercial parking lot charges $2 per hour.(Free with validation). Down the road, the Farmer’s Market charges $6 per hour for non-Farmer’s Market visitors. Why should the city parking meter rate be less than the commercial rate of private parking lots? The City Council should raise the parking meter rate at least 50 percent or more for all the 39,000 meters in the city. This rate increase would generate an estimated $35 million dollars or more for the city, which would hardly be felt by any of its citizens. Tougher fines An increase in parking citations should also be enacted by the City Council. People violate parking meter times with impunity. I don’t worry about a measly $13 parking citation, if I receive a ticket for overstaying at a parking meter. A parking meter citation should sting, and convince me not to violate the law again. A $26 ticket would give me pause, and convince me to carry more quarters in my car to feed the parking meters. Just a small bit of planning on my part would solve the problem. I call these citation increases “lawbreaker taxes”. City Council office holders really need not be concerned with these violators. Nobody admits to receiving a parking meter ticket, and the City Council would not hear much adverse reaction to this change in policy, other than the Howard Jarvis folks, who raise a ruckus about everything. Finally, what is so magical about the present 8 a.m. 6 p.m. parking meter time limit throughout the city? Why not extend the meter hours to 12 midnight? Our sister city of Santa Monica enforces many parking meters to 12 midnight in many areas near the commercial areas of the city. They raise millions of dollars from visitors and tourists patronizing their restaurants and clubs. Additional revenue The City of Los Angeles could collect millions of new dollars with the new revenue generated with the additional hours of operation. Many businesses and restaurants are open late into the evening, and their customers would use the meters for parking. As a resident of the City of Los Angeles, I would be happy to pay higher parking meter rates to help pay for increased police officers, additional pothole repair, and better synchronization of our traffic lights. The Mayor and City Council need to be more creative in identifying new revenue streams for our city. Parking meters are not very sexy, but these 39,000 little banks could help our city decrease the projected multi-million-dollar deficit for our city. I have my extra quarters ready in my pocket. Jack McGrath is the president of GM Communications, a media, advertising, and promotional company in Valley Village. He was president of the Studio City Chamber of Commerce in 2004, and was chief of staff to former Councilman and now County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

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